StrukPop and Nineties & The Gang: Nepal’s K-Pop Dance Pioneers

Emerging from the vibrant and culturally rich tapestry of Nepal, StrukPop and their dynamic alter ego, “Nineties & The Gang,” have embarked on a distinctive journey in the realm of K-pop-inspired dance and music. Established in 2016, StrukPop proudly holds the title of being Nepal’s pioneering K-pop cover dance group. The group, composed of four core members—Suresh Moktan, Santosh Shah Thakuri, Prajwol Lama, and Craig Ligutan—is passionately managed by StrukPop Entertainment. Their debut in 2022 with the single “TTY” (Talking To You) marks a significant milestone in their journey. Their remarkable journey underscores how a shared passion for K-pop transcends geographical boundaries.

From captivating international audiences at prestigious film festivals to igniting the dreams of aspiring dancers and musicians across Nepal, their narrative is a testament to resilience and unwavering dedication. In this interview, we delve deep into their experiences, challenges, and aspirations as they continue to leave an indelible mark on Nepal’s evolving dance and entertainment landscape. Their debut in 2022 with the single “TTY” (Talking To You) marks a significant milestone in their journey.

Can you tell us about the formation of your dance team? How did you all come together?

We founded “StrukPop” in 2016 as the first K-pop cover dance group in Nepal, where we won the KWF 2016 Preliminary Round, but unfortunately, as the winner, we were unable to represent our country in South Korea, whereas a year later, we had the opportunity to represent our country through a documentary screening at the Ulju Mountain Film Festival in 2017. Our documentary “Struggle in K-pop,” directed and cinematographed by Prasuna Dongol and Bryan Rai, respectively, made an enormous impression on Koreans at the Film Festival. When they saw Nepalis devoting their youth to KPOP, one question stuck with us: “Are you guys going to make music in Nepal? We formed “Nineties & The Gang” in response to this single question.

What challenges did you face while establishing a dance team in Nepal, and how did you overcome them?

We didn’t have much family support while starting the dance group because money and a career were both uncertain. Although we followed Korean pop culture, people here did not accept us because of how we dressed and performed. Some event organizers forced us to perform for 15–20 minutes and always refused to pay us. We became stronger and more professional as a result of our mistakes, and we learned to ignore the haters. “Believing in what we do” keeps us going when there’s so much to do, especially here in Nepal.

How did you and your team first get into K-pop dancing? What drew you to this particular genre of dance?

Our journey into K-pop dancing began with a fascination for the genre’s unique fusion of singing and dancing, a rare talent among artists. Witnessing how K-pop evolved over generations to captivate a global audience inspired us. We noticed that K-pop idols often share an age resemblance with us, which made us believe that if they could achieve so much, we could too.

In the context of Nepal, we saw the potential for a modest spark to ignite our evolution in this genre. Regardless of our success, we viewed this as the initial step towards transforming the entertainment industry in our region.

What has been your most memorable K-pop dance performance or event so far, and why?

Our most memorable K-pop dance performance to date has undoubtedly been our guest performance at KWF 2017. This particular performance holds a special place in our hearts because it resonated deeply with the audience on an emotional level. We managed to touch the viewers’ hearts through our performance, much like BTS, whose struggles played a significant role in shaping their journey.

What made this performance stand out was that we infused our own struggles and personal stories into it. Despite not having the opportunity to represent our country in KWF 2016 and facing challenges during the KWF 2017 audition, we aimed to convey the message that acceptance and letting go are essential aspects of personal growth and self-discovery.

As our performance reached its emotional peak, we couldn’t help but shed tears, hugging each other tightly. It was a moment of intense connection with our art and our shared journey, making it an unforgettable experience in our K-pop dance journey.

Did you face any backlash when you selected dance and entertainment as your career path? How did you overcome it?

When you work in the entertainment sector, “the brightest light casts the darkest shadow” is a regular occurrence. People will detest us for any ridiculous reason they can think of. We are strong and motivated as a result of adopting the advice and avoiding any negative blowback.

How has the K-pop phenomenon impacted the dance community in Nepal, and how have you contributed to its growth?

The formation of STRUKPOP made K-POP-inspired groups arise all around Nepal, and more K-POP-inspired groups have formed after we reached millions of views on our “Godawari Banaima” song. Making guest appearances in schools, colleges, and even cultural concerts aided in the growth of Nepal’s dance community. Organizing frequent K-pop events inspired K-pop enthusiasts in Nepal to interact with other fans. Dancing in our own genre may produce new skills simply by making it possible. Following BTS inspired a large number of kpop fans since we could share a common passion through our favorite kpop band.

What is the current situation of the dance community in Nepal?

The dance community in Nepal is thriving, thanks to TikTok and the growing trend of K-pop-inspired dance. Many enthusiasts are turning their passions into careers as influencers. Nepalese dancers exhibit immense talent, though limited local opportunities hinder their full potential. However, there is hope for the future, especially with the younger generation poised to excel. While dance culture is gaining acceptance, some resistance remains. Nonetheless, the community is on the rise, driven by its dedicated members.

Have you participated in any competitions or international events related to K-pop dancing? If so, can you share your experiences?

In terms of STRUKPOP, we competed in the first National Kpop World Festival, which was held in 2016, and we won. In the years that followed, we only made guest appearances and served as mentors for other emerging ensembles. We also competed in international competitions; however, owing to Nepal’s minimal population influence on the K-pop world industry, we were unable to go to the finals. As for Nineties & The Gang, we are simply concerned with making music and aspire to participate in the music industry on a global scale, representing our country.

What are your future goals and aspirations as a K-pop dance team in Nepal?

Our long-term objective entails creating a career path for K-pop enthusiasts to prosper in the nation. We want to clear the way for upcoming artists through our music and performances because “if there is a will, there is a way” for everything. Our main objective will be to make music, and as we travel this path, let’s hope that we can embody every young person’s dream. Our upcoming single, which will be available on all online streaming services, is currently under development. Let’s hope for the best.

Is there a specific message or feeling you try to convey through your performances, and if so, how do you achieve it?

Through our performances, we aim to convey the message that it’s essential to prioritize our passions over others’ opinions. We view our life choices as valuable lessons, not regrets. Our goal is to inspire young people, emphasizing that pursuing their dreams can indeed make them a reality if they have a genuine passion for them.

Do you have any tips for aspiring K-pop dancers in Nepal who wish to pursue a similar path?

There will be many challenges in your life, and you will be discouraged and criticized. Keep going, and one day you’ll be glad you didn’t give up. Also, keep in mind that you are the only one who can handle yourself, not others. Continue on; you can all do it!

StrukPop and Nineties & The Gang have made an indelible mark in Nepal’s entertainment scene, inspiring countless young talents to pursue their passions. Their dedication to K-pop dance and music transcends boundaries, uniting enthusiasts across Nepal. With unwavering determination, they prove that dreams can come true through passion and resilience.

We extend our best wishes to StrukPop and Nineties & The Gang as they continue to inspire and empower Nepal’s youth and beyond. Their journey signifies Nepal’s creative potential, and we eagerly await their future milestones in the global music arena.

Article Compiled By: Rebika Bishokarma

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